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Full Metal Stickvise

Made my own Stickvise from some pieces of brass and aluminium I found in the cheap scraps at the local metal supplier, and some stock I had.

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This is my version of the Stickvise, based on Alex Rich's original project. It can be found here: https://hackaday.io/project/3287-stickvise-low-profile-soldering-vise and it's also available at the Hackaday store: http://store.hackaday.com/products/stickvise

I used to hold small prints in a proxxon mini vise for soldering, larger prints I rested on a bit of wood wrapped with some 1mm thick aluminium plate. The moment I saw Alex's project I new I had to have a Stickvise*

I made mine out of some brass round stock and scraps, and it works like a charm.

*This is a project from my Bucket.
Some people have a bucketlist, I have an actual bucket.
It contains parts, placeholders and bits of paper with ideas for projects. I'm planning to make a 'bucket log' here and on Youtube.

I did not have a detailed plan for this Stickvise, just the aluminium bars as starting blocks. My first idea was to make a simple jaw from flat stock, but I didn't have a suitable piece of brass. I contemplated layering strips of thin brass plate but the plan changed when I was searching through my brass scraps and found the L-profile.

I thought the lowest 'setting' of the jaws (with the bushings on top) would be the most practical, but when I used the vise to solder a PCB (A geiger counter kit) I used the middle setting most. I didn't expect to need the top setting but with headers both on top and bottom on one of the boards being able to rotate the jaws was a very welcome feature. I will write a more detailed log later.

The parts:

- The three aluminium bars are 15 x 15 mm square stock, approximately 7,5 cm long, and drilled with holes for a 6 mm brass rod a bit below the centre line.

- Both jaw bars have M4 threaded holes for holding the vise jaws.

- The spring loaded and adjuster bars have horizontal holes drilled through. The holes are partially opened up to 6mm. The combined length of the 6mm wide holes can fit the compressed springs

- The spring loaded bar has M4 threads on the jaw side of the horizontal holes. These holes are not threaded and 4mm wide in the adjuster bar

- The stick is long enough to hold a standard sized experimentation board lengthwise, and has a small groove for the set screw in one end.

- The jaws are pieces of 15 x 15 x 2 mm brass, with two 2mm wide milled grooves (0.6 mm deep).

- The bushings are 10 mm in diameter and 10 mm in height, drilled to 4 mm.

- The thumbscrews were made by soldering a knurled and bored bushing to a 22 mm long piece of 4mm rod which was threaded M4 over the rest of its length.

- The spring rods are pieces of 6mm brass rod, turned to 4mm except for the ends. The other ends are tapped M4 and screw into a hole in the spring loaded jaw.

- A brass cylinder, with m8 threading on one end and a 6mm hole drilled perpendicular to it's axis, is inserted in the adjuster bar. The stick/rod passes through this cylinder, and tightening a

- The spring are just some springs I had, 6mm in diameter.

  • Some thoughts about my version of the Stickvise

    Martijn09/17/2015 at 23:59 4 comments

    I was hoping to be able to post this sooner, but I was busy (preparing for and going to a festival and a vacation and other stuff).

    I made a Stickvise video for my Youtube channel. It has two parts, a bit of construction and a time-lapse video of me using it for the first time while soldering a pcb kit.

    I have a small Proxxon vise with two slotted aluminium strips, but that vise can only hold narrow pcb's (3 or 4cm? ). For larger prints I used to use a +/- 15 cm x 30 cm piece of wood wrapped with 1mm thick aluminium sheet to protect my desk.

    Working with the vise for the first time was awesome. The moment a board is clamped in a the Stickvise it becomes one with it, and handles like solid object with some mass instead of a flimsy board. No user manual or explanation is needed, there is just soldering before and after a Stickvise.

    But after a while I started wondering if I was using the vise as I was 'supposed' to. I noticed I was using the vise on its side a lot. I think it had to do with the kit I was soldering. The leads on the provided resistors were a bit thin compared to the hole sizes. And the board had an high voltage part which needed to be tidy, so I didn't want to bend the leads outward to much to hold the components for upside-down soldering.

    I hadn't considered it, but with the jaws raised (position C in the drawing below) the vise was stable enough to use on its side. Components like small resistors or long headers were easy to tack with one hand resting on the vise, supporting the component with one finger and holding a bit of solder on the other side.

    I also thought I would be reversing the board more often. Instead I just flipped the vise and soldered the tacked parts. With the thumbscrews on top I had enough clearance for all the headers with the board clamped in the lowest position. The stick didn't interfere with the through hole leads that much and when it did I could easily slide the PCB in the jaw.


    About my design:

    • When I started the construction I only had a rough idea of what kind of jaws I was going to make, and I think they turned out great. They may be a bit less low-profile than the original Stickvise design, but that's not a bad thing. Being able to use the vise on its side is a real plus. I must admit I didn't actually try soldering with the vise on its side and the jaws in position A or B, but in a quick test A was of course less stable then C, and B was not unstable, but a bit less than C.
    • Having a clearance of at least 10 mm above the print allows headers to be fitted without having to turn the board in the vise to solder. But I think a bit more clearance is better, some caps and screw terminals I often use are a bit higher then headers. I didn't expect to need to switch the jaws to position D, but when I did it was good to be able to. Also the thumb screws add a bit more clearance and are easy to use.
    • Conductivity of the jaws could be a problem when I want to hold powered prints, but that hasn't come up yet. When I need to, I will probably make a plastic jaw to go over the brass ones.
    • I already replaced the locking bolt with a longer one, the thread is now long enough for the knurled nut. But the nut still needs to be tightened with a lot of force to properly hold the moving jaw on the stick. A wing-nut might be easier to tighten, but may be to big if you want to flip the vise.

    Something I thought about but didn't have were pointed grub screws. If you have 2 or 4 of these (with fine points), you can easily mark out the drill holes for any jaw-to-be. (image source: http://www.modelfixings.co.uk/)

    That's all.

    I hope this gives some of you new ideas for jaw designs, or encourages you to buy or build a Stickvise.

    Afterthought:

    While writing this I wondered how I would tack a long header without using the vise on its side and had two 'epiphanies'. Maybe these methods are very common and nobody told me, but I won't withhold them from you...

    Read more »

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Alex Rich wrote 02/28/2016 at 17:48 point

Martijn - @Jan has upped the bar for home builds - check it out: https://hackaday.io/project/9771-low-profile-vise-w-metal-quick-change-jaws

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Martijn wrote 02/28/2016 at 18:02 point

Thanks for the heads-up, I have some parts cut up and waiting for a new build. Maybe I should bump them up in the project queue and up the ante again ;)

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John Boyd wrote 12/02/2015 at 21:48 point

This looks very nice!

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Alex Rich wrote 07/25/2015 at 18:10 point

beautifully made!

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Martijn wrote 07/25/2015 at 19:06 point

Thanks!

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